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Writer's Companion

Publisher: Visions Technology in Education
Subject: English-Language Arts
Media Type: Software
Grade(s): 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Date Posted: 12/12/2003


This software resource provides concept and skill development and practice in English-Language Arts specifically in the area of written expression for first through twelfth grade students who are at grade level, below grade level, advanced, English Language Development, or reading two or more years below grade level, in a small group, individual user, large group, or computer lab situation.

Brief Description

Writer's Companion includes a complete writing process from brainstorming to publishing. It is based on a structured approach to the writing process using graphic organizers, word processor, and desktop publisher. The program includes editing features of speech-to-text, spell checker, thesaurus, word count, and readability. The graphic organizers include Venn Diagram, Timeline, and Clustering.

Content Standards

(LEGEND: D=Introduces and Provides for Systematic Development, P=Practice, A=Assessment)

Grade 1 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Select a focus when writing. P
1.2   Use descriptive words when writing. P
Domain: Written & Oral English Language Conventions
1.5   Use a period, exclamation point, or question mark at the end of sentences. P

Grade 2 Detail
Domain: Reading
Strand: 3.0    Literary Response and Analysis
3.1   Compare and contrast plots, settings, and characters presented by different authors. D
3.3   Compare and contrast different versions of the same stories that reflect different cultures. D
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Group related ideas and maintain a consistent focus. D
1.3   Understand the purposes of various reference materials (e.g., dictionary, thesaurus, atlas). P
1.4   Revise original drafts to improve sequence and provide more descriptive detail. P
Strand: 2.0    Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1a   Write brief narratives based on their experiences: move through a logical sequence of events. P
2.1b   Write brief narratives based on their experiences: Describe the setting, characters, objects and events in detail. P
Domain: Written & Oral English Language Conventions
1.1   Distinguish between complete and incomplete sentences. D
1.2   Recognize and use the correct word order in written sentences. P
1.7   Spell frequently used, irregular words correctly (e.g., was, were, says, said, who, what, why). P
1.8   Spell basic short-vowel, long-vowel, r-controlled, and consonant-blend patterns correctly. P

Grade 3 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1a   Create a single paragraph: Develop a topic sentence. D
1.1b   Create a single paragraph: Include simple supporting facts and details. D
1.4   Revise drafts to improve the coherence and logical progression of ideas by using an established rubric. P
Domain: Written & Oral English Language Conventions
1.8   Spell correctly one-syllable words that have blends, contractions, compounds, orthographic patterns (e.g., qu, consonant doubling, changing the ending of a word from -y to -ies when forming the plural), and common homophones (e.g., hair-hare). P

Grade 4 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Select a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view based upon purpose, audience, length, and format requirements. P
1.2a   Create multiple-paragraph compositions: Provide an introductory paragraph. D
1.2b   Create multiple-paragraph compositions: Establish and support a central idea with a topic sentence at or near the beginning of the first paragraph. D
1.2c   Create multiple-paragraph compositions: Include supporting paragraphs with simple facts, details, and explanations. D
1.2d   Create multiple-paragraph compositions: Conclude with a paragraph that summarizes the points. D
1.2e   Create multiple-paragraph compositions: Use correct indention. P
1.3   Use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g., chronological order, cause and effect, similarity and difference, and posing and answering a question). P
1.5   Quote or paraphrase information sources, citing them appropriately. P
1.10   Edit and revise selected drafts to improve coherence and progression by adding, deleting, consolidating, and rearranging text. D
Domain: Written & Oral English Language Conventions
1.7   Spell correctly roots, inflections, suffixes and prefixes, and syllable constructions. P

Grade 5 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1a   Create multiple-paragraph narrative compositions: Establish and develop a situation or plot. P
1.1b   Create multiple-paragraph narrative compositions: Describe the setting. P
1.1c   Create multiple-paragraph narrative compositions: Present an ending. P
1.2a   Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or chronological order. D
1.2b   Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: Provide details and transitional expressions that link one paragraph to another in a clear line of thought. D
1.2c   Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas and details. P
1.5   Use a thesaurus to identify alternative word choices and meanings. P
1.6   Edit and revise manuscripts to improve the meaning and focus of writing by adding, deleting, consolidating, clarifying, and rearranging words and sentences. D

Grade 6 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.2a   Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: Engage the interest of the reader and state a clear purpose. P
1.2b   Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: Develop the topic with supporting details and precise verbs, nouns, and adjectives to paint a visual image in the mind of the reader. P
1.2c   Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions: Conclude with a detailed summary linked to the purpose of the composition. P
1.3   Use a variety of effective and coherent organizational patterns, including comparison and contrast; organization by categories; and arrangement by spatial order, order of importance, or climactic order. D
1.4   Use organizational features of electronic text (e.g., bulletin boards, databases, keyword searches, e-mail addresses) to locate information. P
1.5   Compose documents with appropriate formatting by using word-processing skills and principles of design (e.g., margins, tabs, spacing, columns, page orientation). P
1.6   Revise writing to improve the organization and consistency of ideas within and between paragraphs. D
Domain: Written & Oral English Language Conventions
1.5   Spell frequently misspelled words correctly (e.g., their, they're, there).
Reviewer Comments: Does not distinguish between homonyms.

Grade 7 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Create an organizational structure that balances all aspects of the composition and uses effective transitions between sentences to unify important ideas. P
1.3   Use strategies of notetaking, outlining, and summarizing to impose structure on composition drafts. P
1.6   Create documents by using word-processing skills and publishing programs; develop simple databases and spreadsheets to manage information and prepare reports. P
1.7   Revise writing to improve organization and word choice after checking the logic of the ideas and the precision of the vocabulary. P
Strand: 2.0    Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.5a   Write summaries of reading materials: Include the main ideas and most significant details. D
2.5b   Write summaries of reading materials: Use the student's own words, except for quotations. D
2.5c   Write summaries of reading materials: Reflect underlying meaning, not just the superficial details. P

Grade 8 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Create compositions that establish a controlling impression, have a coherent thesis, and end with a clear and well-supported conclusion. P
1.6   Revise writing for word choice; appropriate organization; consistent point of view; and transitions between paragraphs, passages, and ideas. P

Grades 9-10 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Establish a controlling impression or coherent thesis that conveys a clear and distinctive perspective on the subject and maintain a consistent tone and focus throughout the piece of writing. P
1.4   Develop the main ideas within the body of the composition through supporting evidence (e.g., scenarios, commonly held beliefs, hypotheses, definitions). P
1.6   Integrate quotations and citations into a written text while maintaining the flow of ideas. P

Grades 11-12 Detail
Domain: Writing
Strand: 1.0    Writing Strategies
1.1   Demonstrate an understanding of the elements of discourse (e.g., purpose, speaker, audience, form) when completing narrative, expository, persuasive, or descriptive writing assignments. P
1.3   Structure ideas and arguments in a sustained, persuasive, and sophisticated way and support them with precise and relevant examples. P
1.8   Integrate databases, graphics, and spreadsheets into word-processed documents. P

Profile Information

Catalogue Data
Subject Area English-Language Arts
Type Software
Grade(s) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Reading Level 1.0 - 12.0
Copyright Year 2003
ISBN # 1-58912-212-7
Tech Support Phone 866-215-8155
Version 2.01
Media CD-ROM
Instructional Data
Predominant Instructional Mode Problem Solving
"At Risk" Students This ELR is intended for "at risk" students who are reading at two or more years below grade level.
Special Student Populations Targeted by the ELR Special Education, Reading Below Grade Level, Reading 2 Years or more Below Grade Level, Advanced, English Language Learners
Instructional Setting Single Student, Small Group, Whole Class, Computer Lab  
Features Alternative Language Tracks  
Student Technology Proficiency Skill Level Introductory  
Teacher Technology Proficiency Skill Level Introductory  
Languages Other than English Spanish  
Technology Data
Computer Hardware CD Drive, Printer, Sound Capabilities & Speakers
Operating Systems Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Mac OS9, Mac OSX, Cross-platform (hybrid CD-ROM)
System Requirements Minimum RAM Needed (in MB): Win and Mac 64 MB
Minimum Processor Speed: Win 233 MHz Mac System 8.1 or higher
Distribution Options
Options Single Copy, Lab Pack
Demo URL

Additional Features

Instructional Design
The resource enables or supports student-constructed or initiated projects or activities.
The resource allows opportunities for student collaboration or cooperative learning.

Universal Access Features
Design principles for challenged learners.
Design principles for advanced learners.
Design principles for English Language learners.

- None Selected -

The resource provides templates or forms to use in creating projects or contributing data.
The resource incorporates teacher-controlled features.
The resource incorporates student-controlled features.
The resource allows for saving and printing of textual content.

Support Materials
Professional development is available.
Technical support is available.

Internet Access (if available)
Internet site provides collaborative features like e-mail, discussion groups, online mentors.
Internet site provides primary source information appropriate for student research.

Abstract Information

ELR objectives and expected student outcomes

Students will be able to:
Construct stories, essays, and other forms of writing using the complete writing process of brainstorming, organizing using graphic organizers, editing, and publishing.
Develop organizational skills related to writing using graphics organizers.
Learn to distinguish main ideas from details.
Compare and contrast various topics using a Venn Diagram.
Learn editing skills using word processing including use of a thesaurus, spellchecker, and dictionary.
Use online resources to research writing topics.

Summary of student activities/functions made possible by the resource

Access to do online research for their topic.
Brainstorm their ideas.
Organize their ideas using graphic organizers.
Sequence their ideas.
Edit their ideas using text-to-speech, dictionary, thesaurus, and spellchecker.
Publish their document using the built-in desktop publisher.

Summary of teacher activities/functions made possible by the resource

Teachers can control the language used for writing using American English, British English, or Spanish; tools such as text-to-speech, spellchecker, dictionary, and all program buttons and dialogs will be presented in the language chosen.

Teachers can print poster-sized printouts of any activity for instructional purposes. (Four pieces of paper that overlap to create posters.)

Teachers can setup classes and folders for students so that students can click on a class, click on their name, and go right to their work.

Summary of support material provided with the resource

The teacher/student guide includes suggested lesson plans.
Online writing tools, research links, graphic organizers, and clipart links at are accessible through the Writer's Web button in the lower right hand side of the program.

Summary of research relevant to the Electronic Learning Resource, if available

ERIC Identifier: ED407938
Publication Date: 1997-00-00
Author: Plotnick, Eric
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
Concept Mapping: A Graphical System for Understanding the Relationship between Concepts. A review of research relevant to using graphic organizers.

Anderson-Inman, L.,& Zeitz, L. (1993, August/September). Computer-based concept-mapping: Active studying for active learners. "Computing Teacher," 21(1). 6-8, 10-11. (EJ 469 254).
Compared the efficacy of using onscreen graphic organizers over paper and pencil and concluded that students made more revisions to their graphic organizers using computers.

ERIC Identifier: ED379664
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: Lehr, Fran
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
Revision in the Writing Process.
A review of research justifying the use of word processing in the revision process for students.

Owston, Ronald D., et al. (1991). "The Effects of Word Processing on Student Writing in a High Computer Access Environment." Technical Report 91-3. York, Ontario: York University Centre for the Study of Computers in Education. [ED 341 365]
Owston concluded that students using computers for writing made more revisions and wrote longer compositions.

MacArthur, C. A., Graham, S., Schwartz, S. S., & Schafer, W. D. (1995). Evaluation of a writing instruction model that integrated a process approach, strategy instruction, and word processing. Learning Disability Quarterly, 18, 278-291.
Using the Milliken Writing Workshop software the authors concluded that students using computer based process writing software exhibited improved writing skills in a number of areas.

Reviewer Notes

Standards Notes - No Notes -
Additional Features Notes - No Notes -
Legal Compliance Notes - No Notes -
Minimum Requirements Notes - No Notes -

Publisher Information

Publisher Name Visions Technology in Education
Address PO Box 70479
City, State, Zip Eugene, Or 97401
Country USA
Phone 800-877-0858
FAX 541-349-0944
Web Site

© 2004 California Department of Education
California Learning Resource Network (CLRN)
1100 H St.
Modesto, CA 95354
Phone: 209-525-4979
Fax: 209-525-4689